My China Story: Linda Jaivin (Catch up Online)

This event was held on Thursday 16 June 2022.

Contemporary China, with its population of 1.4 billion people, is a unique country of unfathomable diversity. Filled with rapid changes, it is a place that presents a wide range of human conditions and lifestyles and continues to be an area of scholarly, cultural and mercantile interest and importance for Australians.

The Institute for Australian and Chinese Arts and Culture (IAC) has launched a distinctive, face-to-face conversation series entitled My China Story to build a three-dimensional understanding of China. The invited guests are from a wide range of fields and professions who have lived and worked in China for an extensive period of time. Each conversation features a guest speaker who will share individual stories and experiences to enable audiences to build their own perception and understanding of China.

For the inaugural conversation of My China Story, we are delighted and greatly honoured to feature renowned Sinologist, author, essayist, cultural commentator, and Chinese film and literature translator, Linda Jaivin. Linda has published 12 books, several of which featured or focused on China, including her latest, much talked about book The Shortest History of China. Linda dedicated this book to her parents “who encouraged me to study whatever interested me. What interested me was China”.

Linda’s interest in China saw to her graduation with honours in 1977 from Brown University with a four-year degree in Asian history. She lived and studied first in Taiwan, then worked in Hong Kong as a correspondent for Asiaweek. From there, she ventured onwards to mainland China where she came to know artists, musicians, writers, translators, editors, cartoonists, academics and ordinary citizens. Her destined encounter with the most influential Chinese film makers Chen Kaige and Zhang Yimou opened up another chapter of her career and led to her unique contribution in bringing major Chinese films to world audiences through her English subtitle translations. Linda’s many amazing stories about her experiences and times in China will shed invaluable insights on multifaceted China.

Our inaugural conversation was opened on site by Peter Cai, CEO of the National Foundation for Australia-China Relations at IAC on Parramatta South campus on Thursday 16 June, 4:00-5:30 pm. Linda’s presentation outlining her times in China was followed by her conversation with Professor Jing Han, Director of IAC, covering a range of topics relating to Linda’s lived experiences in and knowledge of China.

Chinese Music Appreciation 1: The art of guzheng with Julia Luo

Alongside My China Story, we are excited to launch our Chinese Music Appreciation series. At the end of each conversation, there will be an introduction of a particular Chinese music instrument or a type of Chinese music, followed by a live performance.

The Chinese Music Appreciation for this conversation featured the guzheng, introduced by Julia Luo (Director of the Sydney Guyun Guzheng Arts Academy) followed by a performance accompanied by some of Australia’s youngest guzheng virtuosos.

The guzheng is one of the most well-known of instruments synonymous with China and Chinese culture. In this short lecture demonstration, Julia Luo uncovers some of the past and present mysteries surrounding this iconic Chinese instrument with an ensemble of young virtuosos from Sydney’s very own Guyun Guzheng Arts Academy .

We are pleased to offer an onsite book signing segment with Linda Jaivin at the conclusion of the official proceedings.


Linda Jaivin a
Linda Jaivin

Linda Jaivin is the author of twelve books, including seven novels and the Quarterly Essay Found in Translation. Her latest book, The Shortest History of China was named the No. 1 book on China published in 2021 by, and is published in Australia, the US and UK; it’s currently being translated into a dozen languages including Russian, Japanese and Chinese (in Taiwan). It’s dedicated to both her parents and to Professor Lea Williams of Brown University, whose courses drew her into the study of Chinese history and who insisted she learn the Chinese language, saying that it was impossible to appreciate Chinese history and culture without understanding and reading Chinese – advice for which she has been eternally grateful.

After graduating with honours in 1977 from Brown University with a four-year degree in Asian history, she continued her study of the language in Taiwan at the Taiwan Normal University’s Mandarin Centre. She studied, worked and lived in Taiwan for two years, after which she moved to Hong Kong where she eventually became a correspondent for Asiaweek magazine, covering the entire course of the Sino-British negotiations over Hong Kong’s future and opening the magazine’s first Beijing Bureau in 1985.

Linda is a widely published essayist and cultural commentator, a public speaker and literary translator specialising in film subtitling: among the films she has subtitled are Chen Kaige’s Farewell My Concubine, Zhang Yimou’s Hero, Jiang Wen’s Devils on the Doorstep and Wong Kar Wai’s Grandmaster. She and Geremie Barmé edited the landmark anthology of translations New Ghosts, Old Dreams: Chinese Rebel Voices, which gave cultural, historical and philosophical context to the 1989 Protest Movement and its violent suppression by the People’s Liberation Army on 4 June that year.

She is also an editorial associate of the Australian Centre on China in the World at the ANU, where she co-edits The China Story Yearbook and website. She lives in Sydney.

Julia Luo 
Julia Luo

Julia Luo 罗欧思宇 is a teacher and founding director of Sydney Guyun Guzheng Arts Academy. She is also an examiner of the guzheng grading examination system of the Chinese Conservatory of Music. She currently serves as guzheng tutor in the Chinese Music Ensemble of the Sydney Conservatorium while completing her Bachelor of Music majoring in Historical Performance (guzheng). Julia has performed at prestigious venues such as the Sydney Opera House, Sydney Town Hall, Chinese Gardens of Friendship and has appeared on CCTV, SBS, ABC and on other well-known TV programs.

Peter Cai

Peter Cai is the CEO of the National Foundation for Australia-China Relations. He has extensive experience in business, media, academia and government, including as Group Chief Advisor and General Manager for strategic relations at Virgin Australia, Research Fellow at the Lowy Institute for International Policy, as a journalist with The Australian, The Age and Sydney Morning Herald and at the Australian Treasury Foreign Investment Review Board Secretariat. He has also served as a committee member of the Australia-China Business Council (NSW).